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Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry - Final Report November 1993

Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993
ISBN 0 64429457

November 1993

Appendix C The Commission, its Consultative Processes and Inquiry Staffing

C.01 The Resource Assessment Commission was established by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Resource Assessment Commission Act 1989. The Commission's functions are to hold inquiries and prepare reports on resource matters in accordance with the Act. In so doing the Commission is required to take both conservation and development aspects into account.

C.02 The Commission has previously completed inquiries into two matters referred to it by the Prime Minister: an inquiry into options for the use of the resources of the Kakadu Conservation Zone and an inquiry into options for the use of Australia's forest and timber resources. The final reports of those inquiries were presented to the Prime Minister on 1 May 1991 and 27 March 1992 respectively.

C.03 On 10 October 1991 the Commission received from the Prime Minister a reference to conduct an inquiry into the use and management of the resources of Australia's coastal zone. The final report of this inquiry is required to be presented to the Prime Minister by 25 November 1993.


C.04 The Resource Assessment Commission is committed to an open inquiry process and has provided opportunities for all interested parties to participate in the work of the Coastal Zone Inquiry. It has endeavoured to gain a comprehensive understanding of peoples' attitudes and values in relation to coastal zone resource use and management.

C.05 Interested parties participated in the Inquiry through public submissions, hearings and informal discussions, and attendance at workshops to discuss particular aspects of the Inquiry's work. In addition to the general public, non-government participants in the Inquiry included representatives of local community groups, industry, conservation and business groups and their peak organisations, and representatives of coastal indigenous groups.

C.06 The special Commissioners for the Coastal Zone Inquiry were appointed on 27 February 1992, and notification of the referral of the matter to the Commission was given in national newspapers on 7 March 1992. A brochure about the Inquiry was released on 23 March 1992, inviting organisations and interested parties to register with the Inquiry and to identify the coastal issues of particular interest to them. A background paper was released on 14 May 1992 which contained general information and an outline of key issues as seen by the Inquiry at that time.

C.07 As a prelude to the first series of public hearings Commissioners held a number of meetings with representatives of organisations identified as having a key role in the coastal zone. Between May and July 1992 Commissioners met with representatives of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Mining Industry Council, the Confederation of Australian Industry, the Housing Industry Association, the Australian Tourism Industry Association, the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and the Australian Local Government Association.

C.08 The Inquiry received 734 submissions (see Appendix E), which were made available for viewing in the Commission's Sydney and Canberra offices, on microfiche through deposit libraries (see Appendix F for a list of deposit libraries) and at hearings. Copies of submissions were also made available on request (see Appendix F).

C.09 As required by the Resource Assessment Commission Act and as part of the process of public participation, the Inquiry held public hearings in locations around Australia. Those who appeared as witnesses at hearings are shown in Appendix E. The transcript of the hearings was made available for viewing in the Commission's Sydney and Canberra offices and at subsequent hearings and copies of the transcript were available for purchase (see Appendix F).

C.10 During the course of the Inquiry, the special Commissioners and officers of the Commission consulted a wide range of interested parties through informal discussions and a number of Inquirysponsored workshops; they also visited many coastal areas and attended conferences, seminars, meetings and workshops dealing with matters related to the Inquiry.

C.11 Inquiry-sponsored workshops were held in connection with the following research projects:

C.12 As part of the Commission's public information activities, a large number of research papers, case study reports and consultants' reports released by the Inquiry were widely distributed and made available for viewing at the Commission's Canberra and Sydney offices and at deposit libraries throughout Australia. Appendix D contains a list of such papers and reports.

C.13 A discussion paper, Coastal zone management objectives and principles, was developed by Inquiry staff during March-August 1993. The paper applied ecologically sustainable development principles to the formulation of more detailed objectives and principles for coastal zone management. Meetings were held with, and comments on the discussion paper sought from, representatives of all spheres of government, industry and peak interest groups. The output from this process is reflected in Chapter 7 of this report.

C.14 A draft report was released for public comment on 1 February 1993. The purposes of the draft report were to discuss the Inquiry's assessment to that time of matters relevant to the terms of reference, to identify the principal issues as seen at that time, and to set out the proposed work program leading to completion of the final report.

C.15 On 23 August 1993 the Inquiry released a discussion paper detailing its draft conclusions and recommendations. The discussion paper provided the basis for a final round of consultations with key interested parties and a last opportunity for input into the Inquiry's deliberations prior to it finalising its advice to the Prime Minister. Commissioners discussed the contents of the paper with representatives of key interest groups during September and October 1993.

C.16 During the course of the Inquiry, mailing lists of interested parties were developed which were used for the distribution of copies of the various documents referred to above. In excess of 5000 addresses were contained in these lists.

State and local government involvement

C.17 The Inquiry was greatly assisted by the participation of the governments of the states and the Northern Territory, local government associations and many local governments. An important part of the first stage of the Inquiry was an examination of existing coastal zone management arrangements. The Inquiry collaborated with state and local governments and other interested parties to undertake case studies in areas chosen in each of the states. The principal purpose of these studies was to help the Inquiry to gain a comprehensive understanding of existing management in the coastal zone. The case studies focused on the regulatory and economic mechanisms and institutional arrangements that apply to decision making and management of resources. Commissioners visited the case study areas in each state during the course of the Inquiry.

C.18 The case study areas were nominated by the states concerned, with the objective of covering, through various examples, the primary activities listed in the terms of reference: building, tourism, mariculture and associated development. The study sites were Ballina, Byron and Maclean Shires in New South Wales, Cairns and Mulgrave Shires and the Yarrabah Aboriginal Trust Area in Queensland, the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, the Huon-Channel area in Tasmania, the Western Port region in Victoria, and the Geographe Bay area in Western Australia.

C.19 Committees comprising representatives of the Inquiry and state and local governments, and in some cases the local community, oversaw the conduct of the studies. In New South Wales and Queensland, where the case study sites were located some distance from the state capitals, a local group was also formed to provide advice. The information obtained from the studies greatly enhanced the Inquiry's understanding of current management mechanisms and has been drawn on in the preparation of this final report. The reports of the case studies also provided a sound basis on which to explore means for promoting integrated management of coastal zone resources. The reports were published in conjunction with the Inquiry's draft report (see Appendix D).

C.20 In conjunction with the case studies conducted in each state, workshops were held in Canberra on 20-21 August and 11 November 1992 and attended by representatives from each state's case study committee.

C.21 Since the case study reports were prepared, coastal zone management arrangements have been, and continue to be, modified. The Inquiry has endeavoured to keep abreast of the changing arrangements and has taken them into account in preparing this report. The Queensland Government has proposed a strategy for management of coastal areas in its jurisdiction and enabling legislation is now in preparation. The New South Wales Government has announced that the Coastal Committee of New South Wales will oversee a review of the State's coastal policy, the review to be completed in 1994. The Northern Territory Government is currently reviewing its environmental assessment process, with amendments expected within the next 12 months (Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, Submission 164). The South Australian Government has begun several reviews, including a review of its Coast Protection Act 1972, as part of a major reassessment of the coastal responsibilities of the State and local governments (South Australian Coast Protection Act Review Committee 1992). The Tasmanian Government has released for public comment a discussion paper designed to provide the basis for development of a state coastal policy (Tasmanian Department of Environment and Planning 1991). In Victoria the Land Conservation Council has begun an investigation into the environmental values and sustainable use of the State's marine, coastal and estuarine areas (Land Conservation Council 1991). The Western Australian Government is currently considering a state coastal management strategy as a basis for reviewing its current coastal management policies (Submission 335, p. 8). The Inquiry has taken account of the information currently available about the changes these initiatives are designed to achieve.

C.22 Many local government authorities are reviewing the management mechanisms pertaining to coastal zone resources within their jurisdiction; this includes preparation of planning documents and possible amendments to the processes used for the approval of development applications and land uses.

Commonwealth Government involvement

C.23 The Inquiry has taken into account relevant Commonwealth initiatives such as New Directions for Commonwealth Fisheries Management in the 1990s (1989), the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts report, Biodiversity: the contribution of community-based programs (1992), the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts, Australian Environment and Tourism Report (1992), and the work of Ocean Rescue 2000, which involves the development of a national marine conservation strategy, a 'state of the marine environment' report, and a national system of marine protected areas (DASET 1992a).

C.24 Recent work on ecologically sustainable development has been of particular interest to the Inquiry. In June 1990 the Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments, and conservation, union and business groups began the process of developing a National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in December 1992, the Strategy aims to promote sustainable development of Australia's resources. The coastal zone has been identified as an area of particular concern and a Coastal Zone Working Group was established in 1992 by agreement with Premiers and Chief Ministers. The Working Group's report on the need for and possible scope of a national coastal zone strategy has identified the outcome of the Commission's Coastal Zone Inquiry as an important determinant of the process and content of such a strategy.

C.25 Responding to the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts (1991), the Commonwealth Government announced in April 1992 that it would develop a policy framework for Commonwealth responsibilities in the coastal zone. A draft paper was released for public comment in December 1992 (DASET 1992b). The Commonwealth Government has indicated it will finalise this coastal zone policy after it receives the final report of the Commission's Coastal Zone Inquiry.

C.26 The Inquiry has also taken into account relevant work undertaken cooperatively by different spheres of government, such as the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (signed by the Commonwealth, the states and territories and the Australian Local Government Association in May 1992), the National Tourism Strategy (Department of Tourism 1992), the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Strategy (CEPA 1992), and the draft National Water Quality Management Strategy (ANZECC & AWRC 1992a). The relationship between these and other strategies and the Inquiry's recommendations is detailed in Chapter 16.


C.27 In accordance with s. 10 of the Resource Assessment Commission Act, the Commission consists of a full-time Chairperson and special Commissioners appointed from time to time for the purpose of specific inquiries.

C.28 The Chairman of the Commission is Mr Justice Donald Stewart. The part-time special Commissioners appointed by the Governor-General under s. 11 of the Act for this Inquiry are Mr Bob Graham, geographer, Dr Greg McColl, economist, and Mr Alan Oxley, trade analyst and management consultant.

C.29 Biographies of the Chairman and special Commissioners are provided in the Commission's annual report for 1992-93, copies of which are available from the Commission.

C.30 The Inquiry is supported by a Secretariat, which includes staff with professional qualifications in disciplines related to the subject matter of the Inquiry. Staff of the Commission's Research and Information Branch also took a major role in the work of the Inquiry.

C.31 Commission staff working on the Coastal Zone Inquiry at the time of preparation of this final report were Chris Babington, Dorian Bontempelli, Cathy Burton, Peter Cook, Alex Cockinos, Tanya Davies, Jackie de Chazal, Mark Flanigan, Phillip Glyde, Philip Greenwood, Nathan Harris, Andrew Johnson, Stephanie Kelly, Anne Law, Murray May, David Palmer, Sharon Pretty, Belinda Robinson, Mark Tucker, Elizabeth Walker, Leanne Wilks and Charlie Zammit.

C.32 Others who worked on the Inquiry at other stages were David Crawford, Gary Dolman, Anne Eayrs, Bruce Flood, Margaret Hampton, Alison Holmes, Jeanette Hughes, Rebecca Irvine, Deranie Jackson, Kerry Jackson, Richard Kenchington, Greg Laughlin, Pieta-Rae Laut, Helen McGregor, Paul McPherson and Robin Sutton.